Car accidents happen, and they are often as terrifying as they are dangerous. One of the most common categories of injury that is associated with car accidents are back injuries, which are painful and can lead to ongoing health problems and chronic pain. Another complication of back injuries is that they can be slow to present with telltale symptoms, which means that some victims fail to receive the medical care they need when they need it. If another driver’s negligence leaves you with a back injury, do not wait to consult with an experienced Killeen car accident attorney.
The Mayo Clinic identifies back pain as one of the most common reasons for doctor visits and for days lost on the job. In fact, it is the number one cause of disability across the nation and the world. Because the back injuries sustained in car accidents can be slow to present with back pain, accident victims do not always associate the pain that follows with the precipitating accident, which means that obtaining the treatment you need can be delayed. Some of the common symptoms associated with back injuries include:
Stiff and/or aching muscles
A tingling/numbing sensation in the hands, arms, feet, and/or legs
Difficulty standing and/or walking
Muscle cramps and/or spasms
Pain that radiates down through the buttocks and into the legs
Pain that worsens with bending, lifting, twisting, walking, or standing
If any of these apply to you, it is time to consult with a doctor. Because early diagnosis is closely associated with improved prognosis, seeking medical attention earlier rather than later is always in the best interest of your health and overall well-being.
Back Injuries that Are Commonly Caused by Car Accidents
The immense impact of a car accident can leave you with any number of serious injuries.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The Mayo Clinic shares that spinal cord injuries result when any part of the spinal cord is damaged (or when the nerves at the bottom of the cord are damaged). Spinal cord injuries can lead to permanent alterations in the victim’s overall strength, sensations, and other important bodily functions that occur below the injury site. A serious spinal cord injury can profoundly affect your life, including having significant mental, social, and emotional consequences. If the spinal cord is severed or seriously damaged, the physical consequences can include all of the following:
Partial or complete paralysis
A loss of sensations or altered sensations, including the capacity to feel someone else’s touch and/or to feel hot and cold
Intense stinging or another form of pain at the site of the spinal cord’s damaged nerve fibers
Exaggerated reflexes, including spasms
Alterations to one’s sexual sensitivity, sexual function, and fertility
Loss of bladder and/or bowel control
Breathing difficulties, including having trouble clearing secretions from one’s lungs
A Herniated Disc
The discs – or rubbery cushions – that rest between each of the vertebrae that make up your spine can become herniated, which means that the gel-like center begins to bulge, push, or leak out. A herniated disc can damage the spine’s functioning, but it can also irritate a neighboring nerve, thus causing pain that radiates out from the source. The impact of a car accident can leave one or more discs herniated, causing immense pain and a significant decrease in range of motion in the process.
While whiplash is a soft tissue injury that is generally caused by the neck being shaken back and forth like the cracking of a whip, the resulting pain can affect the neck, shoulders, and back. Rear-end car accidents are very often the cause of whiplash injuries, but nearly any kind of car crash can get the job done. Whiplash is one of those injuries that can be slow to present with symptoms, and as a result, whiplash often goes untreated until the injury morphs into an even more serious problem. Some of the signs and symptoms that tend to indicate whiplash include:
Decrease in neck’s range of motion
A stiff, painful neck
Pain that increases with movement of the neck
Pain and/or tenderness in the upper back, arms, or shoulders
Numbness and/or tingling in the arms
Dizziness and/or fatigue
More serious symptoms include:
A ringing in the ears
Bouts of depression
Whiplash can be especially bedeviling because the painful consequences can be intermittent. Further, whiplash can lead to chronic pain and to a serious decrease in range of motion that can be debilitating.
Soft Tissue Injuries
Soft tissue injuries refer to injuries in the tendons, muscles, and ligaments, and when they occur in the back, they can be especially painful and especially slow to heal. Soft tissue injuries are also known as sprains, strains, and tears. Some of the most common signs of a soft tissue injury in the back include:
Severe back pain
Stiffness in the back
Tenderness in the area of the injury
Spasms in the affected muscles of the back
The immense impact of a car accident can generate considerable pressure, which can – in turn – cause one or more of the bones that make up the spine to crack (or fracture). Bone fractures often lead to the sudden onset of intense back pain, pain that increases when you stand or walk, and a serious decrease in spinal mobility.
If a motorist’s negligence causes you to suffer a back injury, the pain and decrease in mobility you suffer can lead to very serious losses (that are addressed by the law as your physical, financial, and emotional damages).
Your Medical Bills
The medical bills for a serious back injury can mount very quickly and may include all of the following:
Emergency care and treatment at the scene of the car accident and emergency transportation to the hospital
Surgical care and follow-up care
Medical care from doctors and specialists
Physical and/or occupational therapy
Adaptive physical devices
Medical treatments, procedures, and tests
Home health care
A serious back injury can leave you facing a considerable decrease in earnings, and if your ability to do your job – or to return to work at all – is affected, these losses can extend to a decrease in earning potential that reverberates into your future.
Pain and Suffering
The emotional and physical pain and suffering you experience as a result of a back injury can be profound and may be one of the most challenging obstacles you face.
Ensuring that your car accident claim carefully addresses your full range of damages – in their entirety – is very likely a critical component of your recovery and is best left in the skilled hands of your dedicated car accident attorney.
Car accidents that lead to back injuries are often the result of driver negligence, which can come in a broad array of forms.
Drivers owe their complete attention to the road ahead, and when they are distracted by anything other than the task of driving safely, they are far more likely to cause dangerous accidents, including the rear-end accidents that are so closely associated with whiplash and other kinds of back injuries. Distractions are grouped into three classifications that include:
Distractions that engage one’s hands
Distractions that engage one’ thoughts
Distractions that engage one’s sight
Texting and other smartphone activities have the singular distinction of combining all three of these forms of distraction into one megawatt distraction. When a motorist is driving at highway speeds, the average of five seconds that it takes to read or write a text translates to driving about the length of a football field with no concern for the road ahead and the traffic all around.
Drunk drivers experience physical difficulties and slowed reaction times, find it challenging to concentrate, experience decreased inhibitions, become more impulsive, and can suffer visual impairments. In other words, they are some of the most dangerous drivers out there. While there is no doubt about how risky it is to get behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol, far too many drivers continue to engage in the practice.
The effects of too little sleep can mimic some of the impairments caused by alcohol (such as slowed reaction times and difficulty concentrating), and drowsy drivers present a real danger on our roads.
Excess speed is uniquely dangerous in that it not only makes accidents more likely but also makes them more likely to be deadly. Excess speed plays a primary role in far too many fatal car accident statistics, making it one of the most dangerous driving practices. Motorists are responsible for not only adhering to the speed limit but also slowing their speed in relation to the condition of the road, including the dangerous effects of inclement weather and poorly maintained roads.
Aggressive drivers take dangerous driving and turn things up a notch or two. Aggression has no place behind the wheel, and when motorists choose to take out their anger on the road, they put everyone with whom they share the road at considerable risk. Aggression is often manifest by engaging in multiple forms of dangerous driving at any one time, including:
Zigzagging in and out of traffic
Attempting to engage other motorists by honking incessantly, shouting taunts, using obscene gestures, and/or flashing headlights
Cutting other drivers off
Ignoring the posted traffic signs, lights, and signals
Refusing to yield the right-of-way
Zipping across multiple lanes without concern for other motorists
The Insurance Company
You will look to the at-fault driver’s car insurance company to cover your car accident claim, and it is going to do what it can to settle with you for as little as it can get away with. The car insurance company is in the business of generating profits, and as such, it may implement any one of several industry tactics, which are designed to help keep its profits high and its settlements low.
If the insurance company is eager to settle your car accident quickly, you should take a step back and think about their motivations for a moment or two. A speedy settlement offer likely means that the insurance company wants to get your claim settled before you become fully aware of how extensive your physical, financial, and emotional damages are. Without adequate compensation, you can have a very difficult time reaching your most complete recovery, which amounts to one very good reason why you shouldn’t accept a settlement offer until after you have discussed the matter carefully with your skilled car accident attorney. The insurance company recognizes exactly how vulnerable you are at this juncture, and it is very likely not above taking advantage of the fact.
Complicating the Matter
The fact is that car accident claims are complicated enough, to begin with. If the insurance company handling yours chooses to further complicate and protract the process, it can leave you in a very difficult position. There are laws against artificially lengthening the insurance process, and your knowledgeable car accident attorney knows how to hold the insurance company responsible for such actions.
The insurance company may attempt to shift the element of fault in your claim toward you – the injured party – and away from its policyholder. In the end, the facts of the case and the available evidence – not the insurance company’s protestations – will determine fault in the matter. Additionally, in the State of Texas, you can recover your losses in a car accident claim even if you do share some of the fault. As long as you are not more than 50 percent responsible, you can collect on the percentage of responsibility shouldered by the other driver.
It Is Time to Consult with an Experienced Killeen Car Accident Attorney
Brett Pritchard at The Law Office of Brett H. Pritchard in Killeen, Texas, is a trusted car accident attorney who has the experience, keen legal insight, and resources to aggressively advocate for your claim’s best possible resolution. Your case is important, so please do not hesitate to contact us online or call us at 254-501-4040 for more information today.